RICHFIELD, Ohio — "It sucks," Robert Gilbert Sr., of Richfield, says. "It's difficult because you've lost your only child, but there's a lot of pride in what he did that can't be taken away."
While many might be on the lake or having a barbecue, Memorial Day weekend is extremely important to people like Gilbert, who lost his son on March 16, 2010, following a combat injury in Afghanistan.
"At 13, he decided he wanted to be in the service," Gilbert recalled of his boy. "At age 16, he decided on the Marine Corps. He said they had cool uniforms."
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At 18, Robert Gilbert Jr. did just that, joining the Marines and climbing the ranks to gunnery sergeant. He served two tours in Iraq and three in Afghanistan before his death.
"He loved America," his father says of him. "He felt like it was an obligation."
Being in law enforcement himself, Gilbert Sr. says he understood the urge to serve.
"You just wished him well and prayed for him," he noted. "I'm very, very proud. Again, he made gunnery sergeant at 27, which is pretty unheard of."
Proud of his son and proud of his country, Gilbert Sr. hopes everyone will take a second to reflect this Memorial Day weekend.
"Parents really have an obligation to teach their children what it means to serve in our military and what it means to be free as we are," he told us.